South of Mandalay: Amarapura, U-Bein Bridge and Taungthaman Lake; Inwa and Bagaya Kyaung; Sagaing with Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Ceti.


lake and boats

Seven miles south of Mandalay is Amarapura, another Burmese capital (1783-1857), though little remains of the ancient ruins. Instead, Amarapura is best known for its U-Bein Bridge, a 200-year-old teak footbridge that stretches 1300 yards across Taungthaman Lake -- the world's longest teak bridge. We visit at sunset and hire colorful rowboats to give us good views of the bridge as the day fades.

fisherman in water

The fisherman at left immerses himself in his work.

teak bridge

There are 1060 teak posts; the bridge's height is necessary to cope with seasonal variation in the lake's level. In early summer the water level sometimes rises above the walkway. We are here in late October, and the lake is shallow.

concrete posts

In this section part of the bridge has been rebuilt with concrete posts and a rest area.

commuters crossing

A steady stream of pedestrians and cyclists commute between Amarapura at the west and Taungthaman Village to the east.

drowned trees
bridge at sunset

Inwa (Ava)


lunch table
chalkboard menu

A few miles south and west of Amarapura is Inwa, which is effectively an island, due to its being surrounded by rivers and canals. After reaching it by a small boat ferry, we have an outdoor lunch (above). Inwa (then called Ava) was the capital of the Burmese kingdom on and off for nearly 400 years (14th - 19th centuries), and many ruins dot the landscape, surrounded by palm trees, fields and rice ponds. After lunch we set out by horse cart to visit the Bagaya Monastery, and a few other brief stops.

horse carting along canal
horse cart

ox cart
oncoming horse cart

crumbling temple






Bagaya Kyaung (Monastery)









This wooden structure dates from 1834, and is supported by 267 teak posts, some as large as 9 feet in diameter.


It's original use was as a sort of monastic college, where the royals' children were educated.

interior with posts


bike on ferry

Returning from Inwa to the mainland, we share the ferry with a local cyclist.




We cross the Ayeyarwaddy River and drive a bit north to Sagaing, an area rich with stupas, pagodas, temples and monasteries. Sagaing Hill is second in height (after Mandalay Hill) in this vicinity.


Sagaing Hill
novice nuns
novice monks

It is 4PM, school is out, and these novice monks and nuns near Thidagu World Buddhist University seem to be happy about it.


Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Ceti (Pagoda)


pagoda dome

On Sagaing Hill, another dazzling Pagoda, built in 1312 A.D. by a royal palace courtier named U Ponnya. It has obviously been rebuilt or extensively refurbished since then.

tiled platform
tiled platform

tiled platform